|Publication number||US7419424 B2|
|Application number||US 11/338,084|
|Publication date||Sep 2, 2008|
|Filing date||Jan 24, 2006|
|Priority date||Jan 24, 2005|
|Also published as||US20060178184|
|Publication number||11338084, 338084, US 7419424 B2, US 7419424B2, US-B2-7419424, US7419424 B2, US7419424B2|
|Inventors||Alfred T. Gomez|
|Original Assignee||Wms Gaming, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (70), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (6), Classifications (7), Legal Events (6)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/646,458, filed Jan. 24, 2005, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
The present invention generally relates to gaming machines and, more particularly, to gaming machines having a multi-hand card game.
Gaming machines, such as slot machines and video poker machines are integral to the success of the gaming industry. Video poker machines have been particularly popular with players. A variety of video poker games have been developed to appeal to a broad spectrum of players. The best video poker games are extremely successful and remain successful year after year. There is a continuing need for gaming machine manufacturers to produce new types of card games for video gaming machines to continue to satisfy consumer demand for new and more entertaining games.
One concept that has been successfully employed to enhance the entertainment value of video poker games is to allow simultaneous play of multiple card hands. One genre of this game mechanic allows a player to propagate selected cards from a base hand through the remaining simultaneously played card hands. Ostensibly, a player can select his most promising cards and propagate these cards into other hands to increase the player's probability of winning.
As with all forms of entertainment, players look for new and more entertaining games. What is needed is a new type of poker game that propagates an advantage in an initial base card hand into a number of simultaneous played poker hands using a new and more interesting method.
According to one embodiment of the present invention, a method of playing a gaming machine is disclosed. The method comprises the act of displaying a set of cards randomly selected from a group of cards. Each of the cards in the group of cards has a rank. The method further comprises the acts of selecting hold cards from the set of cards and forming a first card hand with the hold cards and with sufficient additional cards randomly selected from the group of cards to complete the first card hand. The method further comprises the acts of forming a second card hand having cards with the next higher rank of each card in the first card hand and making an award for each card hand with a winning combination.
According to another embodiment or the present invention, a gaming machine is disclosed. The gaming machine comprises a wager acceptor, a central processor unit, a player input device, a display, and a payoff mechanism. The wager acceptor accepts a wager to initiate game play. The central processor unit forms a first card hand from hold cards selected from a set of cards randomly selected from a group of cards and with sufficient additional cards randomly selected from the group of cards to complete the first card hand. Each of the cards in the group of cards has a rank and a suit. The central processor unit further forms a second card hand having cards with the next higher rank of the same suit of each hold card and with sufficient additional cards to complete the second card hand. The player input device selects the hold cards from the set of cards. The display is in communication with the central processor unit. The display displays the set of cards and each card hand. The payoff mechanism is in communication with the central processor unit to make an award for each card hand having a winning combination.
According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a method of playing a gaming machine is disclosed. The method comprises the acts of making a wager to initiate game play and displaying a set of cards randomly selected from a group of cards. Each of the cards in the group of cards has a rank. The method further comprises the acts of selecting one or more hold cards from the set of cards and forming a first card hand with the hold cards and with sufficient additional cards randomly selected from the group of cards to complete the first card hand. The method further comprises the act of forming a second card hand having one or more cards that are dependent on the rank of one or more of the cards in the first card hand and any additional cards sufficient to complete the second card hand. The method further comprises the act of making an award for each card hand with a winning combination.
The above summary of the present invention is not intended to represent each embodiment, or every aspect, of the present invention. Additional features and benefits of the present invention are apparent from the detailed description, figures, and claims set forth below.
The foregoing and other advantages of the invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description and upon reference to the drawings.
While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments have been shown by way of example in the drawings and will be described in detail herein. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not intended to be limited to the particular forms disclosed. Rather, the invention is to cover all modifications, equivalents, and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
The present invention is directed to a gaming machine (such as a video gaming machine) having an improved game play mechanic to enhance the entertainment value of a multi-hand card game such as poker. The game allows the simultaneous play of multiple card hands. The cards favored by the player in the first hand are selectable by the player and held. Each of these hold cards is propagated into the remaining hands using the next higher rank of the same suit to populate each of the succeeding card hands. The non-held cards are discarded and replaced with drawn cards. These drawn cards in the first card hand may also be propagated into each succeeding hand in the same manner. The propagation of these cards from the base hand (or first card hand) into each succeeding hand produces a visually interesting display and provides an intriguing game play mechanic. This game is called Tower Poker and is applicable to all types of card games.
Escalating the rank of the card hands produces interesting results. Escalating ranks alters optimum play strategies for producing a winning game outcome dependent on the first card hand. Besides altering the game play characteristics, the escalating card hands introduce greater volatility to the game. All these factors produce a more interesting and entertaining game.
In the illustrated embodiment shown in
Referring also to
The CPU 18 could also be part of a central server in communication over a computer network with the gaming machine 20. The central server could determine the game outcomes for display on the gaming machine 20. The gaming machine 20 may still have a CPU to control and communicate with the gaming machines peripheral devices.
Besides inserting a wager, the player may also insert a player-tracking card in the player-tracking card reader 24 to identify the player to the computer network controlling the gaming system. The player-tracking display 27 allows the player-tracking system to communicate with the player.
The CPU 18 executes a game program that causes the video display 16 to display the card game. The player may select the number of simultaneous card hands to play using the hands bet icon 53 (
The game commences in response to the player placing a wager and activating the game through the push-button panel 22 or the touch screen 17, causing the CPU 18 to initiate the card game. The CPU 18 randomly draws a card hand using a random number generator (RNG). Typically, video poker gaming machines have a hold push-button 36 on the push-button panel 22 to hold specific cards in a card hand. The player may also use the touch screen 17. These hold cards 46 (
The programming necessary for the gaming machine 20 to execute game functions is stored in system memory 12. This stored program is operable in association with the CPU 18 to execute the program's instructions on the gaming machine's various peripheral devices including the video display 16, coin acceptor 28, bill validator 29, and push-button panel 22. The system memory 12 stores control software, operational instructions, and data. In one embodiment, the system memory 12 comprises a non-volatile memory (separate read-only memory (ROM)) 14 and volatile memory (random access memory (RAM)) 13. The system memory 12 may be implemented on any of several alternative types of memory structures or may be implemented on a single memory structure.
A payoff mechanism 21 is operable in response to instructions from the CPU 18 to award a payoff of credits to the player in response to certain winning outcomes that may occur in the game. Cash from a coin hopper 31 or a cashless ticket from a ticket printer 23 may be dispensed to provide a payoff to the player for a winning combination.
The payoff amounts correspond to specific winning combinations available in the card game and are listed in a pay table 51 and stored in system memory 12.
Gaming machines 20 also typically include speakers 25 as illustrated in
The speaker output is controlled by CPU 18 using a digital signal processor (DSP) to process audio data. The CPU 18 may also include memory for storing the audio data (typically called a data set) that the DSP processes. System memory 12 may also be used to store audio data sets. The processed audio data set is converted to analog audio signals that are amplified external to the main control board by an audio controller 33 and transmitted to the speakers 25 to provide audio output. Alternately, the audio controller 33 may contain the major audio components typically included in the CPU 18.
In a similar manner, video sequences used to display game outcomes may be stored in system memory 12. The CPU 18 retrieves the video sequence corresponding to the game outcome selected by the RNG. The video sequence comprises a video data set ported to a video controller 34 to produce a video image on the video display 16. Any type of audio and video control systems such as though as described above, and any number of variants may be used to implement the present invention.
The above-described video gaming machine 20 may be used to implement the game play mechanics of the multi-hand card game described below either with or without player participation. Turning to
The card game is initiated with the player receiving an initial set of cards (or card set) 40 as shown in
In at least one embodiment, the number of cards in the initial card set 40 equals the number of cards required for the game's card hand. For example, in a standard five-card poker game, the initial card set 40 may contain five cards. The initial card set, however, could also contain six, seven, or more cards. This initial card set 40 is reduced to the required number of cards (five for a five-card poker game) through the subsequent hold, discard, and replacement process to produce a five-card hand. Similarly, the initial card set 40 for a three-card poker game may be three cards or a greater number of cards than required for the card hand. Any additional cards beyond the required number of cards simply give the player greater flexibility and a greater likelihood of producing a winning game hand.
The player now examines the initial card set 40 and selects hold cards 46 for inclusion in the first card hand 41. The number of cards that the player may hold may be predetermined, randomly determined, or may be any number up to a maximum limit. For example, in a five-card poker game, any number of cards may be held; for example, all five cards may be held, all five discarded, or any number in between may be held. Alternately, the maximum number of cards that can be held may be less than all of the cards in the card hand. For example, the player may only hold up to three cards. The player may customize the game to set the maximum number of held cards with the gaming machine 20 selecting an appropriate pay table 51. The player may also decide, in one embodiment, not to hold any of the cards from the initial card set.
Alternatively, the gaming machine 20 may not require any player participation, and may use an auto-hold feature that selects for the player the most probable winning game outcome. The player may also customize the strategy for playing the game and further customize the auto-hold feature by specifying how much risk and volatility the player wishes to experience—not necessarily producing the greatest likelihood of a winning game outcome but the game play strategy that is most likely to produce the highest payback.
As can be seen from
As shown in
Each of these randomly selected drawn cards 47 provides the basis for completing the remaining card hands using the same propagating mechanic as described above for the held cards (e.g., using a sequentially higher rank of the same suit for each card in the preceding card hand to form the subsequent card hand).
For example, the second poker hand 42 is formed from the first card hand 41 using the next higher rank of the same suit for each card in the first card hand to create the second card hand. In another embodiment, the suit of each card need not be the same. For example, the suit for each subsequent hand may be randomly determined. Alternately, the suits of the held cards are replicated and the suits of the drawn cards 47 are randomly determined in each of the subsequent hands.
The third poker hand 43 (and each additional card hand formed thereafter) builds on the immediately preceding card hand in the same manner. In the third card hand 43, the second card hand 42 is used to create the third card hand by using the next higher rank of the same suit from the second card hand to populate the third card hand.
Each card hand is individually evaluated to determine if a winning combination has been formed. As can be seen in
Had the player not drawn a winning combination in the first card hand 41, the player could still win on the subsequently built card hands. This is shown in
In another embodiment, only the hold cards 46 from the first card hand 41 are “towered” in escalating rank into the subsequent hands (i.e., generated cards 48). This is shown in
Although the game can be played with a single wager (the single wager determining the number of simultaneously played card hands), it is also possible to create additional opportunities for wagering. For example, after the card set 40 is determined, and before a draw is made to complete the first card hand 41, the player may have an additional opportunity to place an additional wager.
Although all the examples provided in the figures show a sequentially increasing rank occurring in each successive card hand, if an ace occurs in a lower card hand, the next higher rank is a deuce (i.e., a 2)—with subsequent card hands increasing in rank as described above. Hence, the progression of ranks is a continuous loop. In some games, the low card is the ace. With the understanding that the card ranks form a continuous loop, the ranking of each card is determined by adjacent cards in the loop. The absolute ranking, however, may affect the pay tables and the value of winning card combinations.
Because of the looping nature of the hierarchical structure, a card of lesser rank could also be the propagated card 48. Any arithmetical or geometric progression (or progression indicating both arithmetic and geometric progressions) is applicable to the propagation of cards to the simultaneously played card games. For example, the propagated card 48 may escalate by two ranks from the preceding card hand. Alternately, the progression could be to a lesser rank or value in each subsequent card hand. Furthermore, different arithmetic or geometric progression functions may be used to develop the propagated cards 48 for the second card hand 42 from each card held in the first card hand 41.
In yet another embodiment, the “towering” or escalating may be stopped or prohibited from continuing from one hand to the next based upon the occurrence of a predetermined hand. For example, if the first hand 41 included a pair of queens, and the second and third hands 42, 43 towered to a pair of kings and a pair of Aces respectively, the towering may be stopped so as to prevent the continuous loop cycling discussed herein from providing a pair of twos in the fourth hand 44. Thus, the “towering stop” feature may be used to prohibit the perceived unfairness of having a qualifying winning starting hand 41 cycle to present non-winning combinations in later hands 42-45. The “towering stop” feature may cause the towering of cards to stop based upon achieving a certain predetermined hand, or alternatively based upon the fact that further cyclic towering would yield a subsequent hand 44 which is lesser paying than the current towered hand 43. The “towering stop” feature may also include a multiplier so as to compensate the player from the hands 44,45 which were not paid due to the stopping of the towering function. In the example above, the player may receive a multiplier since the stopping of the towering occurred in the third hand 43, thereby prohibiting play of the fourth and fifth hands 44, 45. In one embodiment, the multiplier may be a function of how many hands 44, 45 were remaining when the towering stop feature was activated. Thus, since the player was deprived of the last two hands 44, 45, the third hand 43 may be paid at a 3× multiplier. In addition to multipliers, the “towering stop” feature may include a number of other bonus payments, games, credit amounts, free games, etc. to compensate a player for the lost opportunity of hands which were eliminated from play by the stop feature.
Although the above embodiments are described with respect to a group of card games commonly known as poker, it should be appreciated that the present invention is also applicable to any number of card games such as blackjack, etc. with a hierarchical or value ranked structure.
While the present invention has been described with reference to one or more particular embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that many changes may be made thereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. For example, the embodiments discussed may use a gaming machine which itself determines the game outcome with an onboard central processing unit. Alternately, the gaming machine may be in a network that uses a central processing unit to control and determine the game outcomes for each of the gaming machines in that network. Each of these embodiments and obvious variations thereof is contemplated as falling within the spirit and scope of the claimed invention, which is set forth in the following claims.
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|U.S. Classification||463/13, 273/143.00R, 273/292|
|International Classification||A63F13/00, A63F1/00|
|Jan 24, 2006||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: WMS GAMING INC., ILLINOIS
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:GOMEZ, ALFRED T.;REEL/FRAME:017514/0870
Effective date: 20060120
|Sep 23, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Dec 18, 2013||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., AS COLLATERAL AGENT, TEXAS
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC.;WMS GAMING INC.;REEL/FRAME:031847/0110
Effective date: 20131018
|Dec 4, 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS, AS COLLATERA
Free format text: SECURITY AGREEMENT;ASSIGNORS:BALLY GAMING, INC;SCIENTIFIC GAMES INTERNATIONAL, INC;WMS GAMING INC.;REEL/FRAME:034530/0318
Effective date: 20141121
|Jul 29, 2015||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BALLY GAMING, INC., NEVADA
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:WMS GAMING INC.;REEL/FRAME:036225/0201
Effective date: 20150629
|Apr 15, 2016||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|